The North Downs Line Community Rail Partnership (CRP), which receives funding from South Western Railway, has been working with groups across the country to engage young people and help reduce incidents of trespass on the railway.
During lockdown there has been a worrying increase of trespassing on Britain’s railways, with the first month seeing 25% more than the previous year. With the prospect of a long summer ahead, a number of CRPs, including the North Downs line CRP, realised they were well placed to help get the railway safety message across.
Maddy Mills, the officer for North Downs line CRP, met several times virtually with officers from other groups, sharing good practice and discussing the issues of Covid-19 for the railway and youngsters.
“At our first Zoom get together we were shocked by the increase in trespassing and the ‘room’ immediately said ‘We must do something about that’. In a matter of weeks, a national competition has been devised, prizes sponsored and backing received from across the rail industry.
“We want young people to show off their creativity to get the message across to their peers that being on the tracks is potentially deadly. In order to spread the message to as many young people as possible, we are suggesting that young people (over 13 years old) share their video or song on social media and we have a category for the entry with the greatest social media impact.”
The competition is open to all 11-18 year olds across the UK and has six categories, with entrants being asked to make a video, write a song/rap, produce a storyboard or write a script which shares the anti-trespassing message. For each category, a GoPro Hero8 bundle is up for grabs. There are two key points that entrants must remember – the video must be made from the young person’s home or garden and must not show any violence.
SWR’s Community Rail Manager, Andy Harrowell, said:
“At SWR we are dedicated to safety and have already worked with Network Rail to introduce a number of Welfare and Trespass Officers at our stations to help reduce incidents like these. We welcome the efforts of Maddy and her colleagues and look forward to seeing the creative pieces produced by the young people to highlight this serious situation.”
The competition closes on 30th September 2020 and more information can be found on the website: www.downtheline.org.uk/projects/backtrack.